Mother’s Day Gift Guide: Nostalgic Beach Supplies, Egg Cups and More


I grew up vacationing in a beach town called Nags Head on the Outer Banks, the string of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. My parents did, too — they were high school sweethearts — and their stories about hitchhiking to Nags Head as teenagers in the 1960s and seeing bands like the Drifters perform at the local dance hall were the stuff of legend in my mind. As a kid in the ’80s, I loved climbing the massive sand dunes at nearby Jockey’s Ridge State Park and fishing at Cape Hatteras. So I was excited to learn that this month, Steidl will publish a book of images the photographer Joel Sternfeld took in Nags Head in the summer of 1975. Sternfeld’s weatherworn cottages and roadside snack bars bring back memories real and imagined, and I’ll enjoy reliving them with my mom. The book is currently available for preorder, so, in the meantime, I’m eyeing some other ’70s-inspired gifts for Mother’s Day. Vacation’s Orange Gelée sunscreen is reminiscent of the vintage tanning staple Bain de Soleil, and this portable wine chiller designed in 1978 by Richard Carlson is easy to find on eBay. It fits two bottles of wine. Alternatively, Cann Social Tonic’s zero-proof Roadie pouches, infused with 2 milligrams of THC, travel easily to the beach. And for a nostalgic summer pants set, turn to the Rockaway Beach-based Zingara Vintage. The designer Erin Silvers custom makes her ZingaraTerry loungewear from vintage YSL towels produced in the 1960s and ’70s.

Garden Party

The New York-based fashion designer Ulla Johnson has collaborated with the British Japanese home and gardening brand Niwaki on a five-piece ikebana kit, launching next week. Ikebana, which Johnson studied during the coronavirus lockdown in 2020, is a minimalist style of floral arrangement that dates back to sixth-century Japan. Four years after she began the practice, Johnson still arranges flowers from her own Brooklyn backyard as often as possible. “I start each day in the garden when I can, gathering stems and branches to bring light and life into the house,” she says. Her collection with Niwaki features ikebana essentials, including secateurs (hand pruners) wrapped in wisteria rattan, a shallow vase handmade by the Japanese potter Yo Thom and a gardening apron made of Ulla Johnson’s shibori fabric, which shows up frequently in her ready-to-wear clothes. The Ulla Johnson x Niwaki ikebana collection will launch May 6 in Johnson’s New York and Los Angeles boutiques, as well as at Niwaki’s London flagship, which Johnson will take over with a window installation designed by the florist Frida Kim.

Deliciously scented and with a dose of nourishing ingredients, these bars of soap turn hand washing (or showering) into a pleasurable part of any routine. The New York-based brand Soft Services recently launched a Green Banana Buffing Bar loaded with microcrystals that rubs away flakes for softer skin and a deep clean. The scent is bright, green and slightly sweet — just like a freshly peeled, unripe version of its namesake fruit. The Long Island-based company Terra-Tory’s seasonal Wild Heirloom Tomato and Sweet Basil soap uses puréed, vitamin C-rich tomatoes sourced from a local farmer’s market alongside sweet basil oil, cracked black pepper and anti-inflammatory nettle leaves. The herbaceous, hearty cube shape looks elegant in a soap dish or hung by the bath. For another visual treat, there’s D.S. and Durga’s striped Pistachio Glycerin Soap, crafted in Maine by the soap and candle maker Wary Meyers. The nostalgic pink-and-green bar is unabashedly sweet smelling — and would look quite at home in the display case at an Italian bakery.

Double Duty

A candle that comes in a striking, reusable vessel is two gifts in one: After the wax has melted away, the container becomes a sculptural catchall, vase or mug. Ferm Living’s Ura soy wax candle comes in three calming scents — lemongrass, fig and chamomile — and is potted in a terra-cotta vessel with an accompanying lid. For a more ornate option, Arquiste’s Friend of the Night candle is encased in a Michoacán enameled clay vase designed with two Mexico City-based studios, Marva and Surco. The candle’s notes of tuberose and sugar cane were developed by the Mexican perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who has also worked on fragrances for Clinique and Tom Ford. The Indonesian design studio Marloe Marloe offers the Mini Bobby Candle — a smaller (about four and a half inches high) option glazed in the company’s signature gritty Lava texture. The vessel houses a beeswax blend with the brand’s Leather and Amber scent, which has notes of green leaf, thyme and lemon completed with sandalwood. For their most recent collaboration released in April, the fragrance brand Liis and the ARC Objects designer Daniela Jacobs created hand-carved porcelain vessels filled with Liis’s two newest scents, In This World (notes of blood orange, lavender and tonka wood) and Ethereal Wave (bergamot, white tea and velvet musk). For a mother who appreciates an oceanic hue, there’s the London-based brand Austin Austin’s collaboration with the ceramic artist Matthew Raw. Their candle, with top notes of cedar atlas and ylang-ylang, is housed in a hand-dipped glossy cobalt vessel.

etch a sketch

When Caitlin Mociun introduced her line of hollowed-out charms made to hold hair, ashes or tiny notes, she joined a new wave of designers reimagining keepsakes and mourning jewelry. Now the Brooklyn-based jeweler is looking at another way to hold relics close with a new custom line called Memento, which features line drawings, signatures, phrases and symbols etched onto pendants.

Mociun landed on the idea six years ago, when she designed a pendant for her husband as a wedding gift. The process of working with an artisan to translate a portrait of herself into a photo etching proved to be a literal labor of love, too difficult to bring to clients (for now). She searched for a way to simplify the process: An employee knew of someone who had an antique locket engraved with “I Love You” in her mother’s handwriting, duplicated from a piece of paper. It was that notion — replicating not an elaborate work of art but a more quotidian, intimate moment from life — that helped the designer shape her concept. The Memento process takes about six weeks and begins with a client sending in an image that’s then formatted and mocked up for placement on a gold pendant, which is offered in both oval and circular shapes. The design is etched using a laser engraving machine. “It’s nice to have a physical reminder of a feeling,” says Mociun. “It’s why I wear jewelry and why I like making jewelry; it fits into my idea of a walking altar.”

Morning Companion

My mother’s more prone to making what she calls “one pan wonders” — a kind of frittata with eggs, leftover vegetables and dots of goat cheese — than a set of soft-boiled eggs, but I’m still tempted to buy her one of the stylish egg cups I’ve seen around lately. The French American designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen created her lacy glass version with the idea of giving the “classic egg cup and the egg itself the attention and grandeur they each deserve,” she says. Jacobsen also imagined the vessel being used as a shot glass or holder of cocktail picks. For a more minimalist but still whimsical take, there’s the West Sussex, England-based Thai ceramist Aey Aspdin’s Kelly egg cup. With its smooth ovoid shape and pastel colors, it looks like the car that an egg would choose to drive on Easter. A spring table would also be well set with Astier de Villatte’s Marguerite egg cup, defined by its scalloped edges and the Parisian studio’s telltale white glaze. When not in use at breakfast, it could be an olive pit repository or a vase for a dahlia that deserves its own stage.

Artisanal blend

Using vibrant woods from around the world, including green buckeye burl from the United States, golden sapele from Nigeria and dark ebony from Asia, the British brush maker and wood turner Lucinda Goulden began crafting makeup brushes two years ago from her home in Wiltshire. Her range of blending, powder and bronzer brushes is influenced by her previous training as a makeup artist and feels decadently soft against skin thanks to bristles made from locally sourced goat hair. With gentle monthly cleansing, the brushes should last for years. “I wanted to create heirloom-quality makeup brushes that were also functional pieces of art,” Goulden says. For an extra-special touch, some of her designs come embedded with semiprecious tourmaline and amethyst stones.

The Bangkok- and London-based jewelry designer Patcharavipa Bodiratnangkura owes her love of jewelry to her mother, Sanhapit Sampatisiri, who would design her own pieces as a hobby. In 2016, Bodiratnangkura launched her fine jewelry line, Patcharavipa, selling pieces like a disc ring showcasing a carved coconut shell and chain-link drop earrings made with her trademark molten-style 18-karat Siam gold. In addition to her fine jewelry and high jewelry couture lines, Bodiratnangkura, along with her partner, Kenzi Harleman, reworks 10 to 15 vintage watches a year, adding embellished bezels and changing the original bracelet, sometimes even turning them into rings. Their next set will include 10 styles, including a 1980s Piaget redesigned with a black crocodile strap and a yellow-gold Roman-style molded bezel. Another contemporary designer offering transformed vintage timepieces is New York-based Jade Trau. Her first foray into watches will include six restored Rolex Cellinis from the ’70s. Each remake is a different color and has distinctive details: An all-black version with an 18-karat-gold vintage-style bezel has minuscule diamonds as hour markers. If your mother prefers a bolder hue, there’s a version with a crimson dial and matching strap framed with cobblestone-set diamonds, one of Trau’s signature settings.

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